PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad CMC – Nine members of a Canadian-based ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, Lev Tahor, were deported to Canada on Saturday less than 48 hours after a High Court here dismissed an application for a habeas corpus writ to have them released from detention in Trinidad and Tobago.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan confirmed that the members of the group, which included children, were removed from a hotel near the Piarco International Airport, east of here and placed on a plane to Canada.
He said the Trinidad and Tobago government could not breach an order from a competent court in Canada and that failure to send the members back to Quebec could have resulted in diplomatic problems between the two countries.
Ramlogan said that Trinidad and Tobago could not turn its back to the Court ruling regarding the Child protection order whereby the children would have been handed over to child protection agencies in Canada.
“The welfare of the children was foremost,” he said on television, adding that the decision to deport the members of the group came after their appeals of the High Court order to the Immigration authorities were denied.
He said he had been asked to provide legal advice on the matter and that he had informed the immigration authorities that the appeal was not within the time limit included in the Immigration Act and as a result “there was no legal basis or justification for the group to remain in Trinidad and Tobago”.
Those deported are Ester Hayon, 50; Azar Hayon, 59; Avrohom Dinkel, 22; Yeshivia Hayon, 15; Tehila Hayon, 13; Yehodit Nechama Soleimani, 16; Mariam Soleimani, 15; Shira Hayon, 11; and Moshe Yochanan, nine.
A statement issued by the Ministry of National Security earlier this week, said that the group had arrived here on Monday on board a West Jet flight from Canada.
It said they had been interviewed by immigration authorities “who discovered inconsistencies in their responses.
“As a consequence, and in adherence to international immigration protocols, the group was rejected and advised of their inability to travel on to Guatemala,” the statement said, adding that the group subsequently employed local attorney Farah Masai “who began advocating their concerns with the airline and immigration authorities”.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said local authorities were holding talks with their Canadian counterparts on the matter.
Several members of the religious group were scheduled to appear before a court in Chatam-Kent, Canada, on Wednesday when a decision was expected to be made regarding 14 Lev Tahor children who were to be returned to Quebec and placed in foster care.
The application for the habeas corpus writ was filed at the High Court on Wednesday night.
Their attorneys had argued that their clients were being detained in unsanitary conditions, and were only allowed food on Tuesday night. They claimed also that the detention at the Piarco International Hotel was unlawful as they had not been charged with any criminal offence.
However, the High Court ruled that evidence in the application was lacking and that one of the attorneys in his affidavit had pointed out that his clients were being kept in less than humane conditions, but there was nothing further in the affidavit to expand on this claim.